ENSOUL Music Designs- What to expect
EnSoul Policies
How can I search the FAQ's for what I need?

At the top of this section is a search-field. Where is reads "start typing" simpliy type in a search word. You will immediately see the FAQ articles that pertain to your search.

Another way is to click "Ctrl+F" on your keyboard to open a search field. Then type in any keyword; such as Bodhran or singing bowl. We have tried to organize the FAQ's, so once you locate your key word, there may be a few FAQ's that will be of interest. If you don't find what you need, just email us at info@ensoul.com and we'll do our best to answer your question.

What does "Special Delivery" mean?

Speical Delivery indicates the item will be shipped on a pallet via freight service. Special Delivery is required for oversized items. Unfortunately, our website is unable to calculate the exact shipping cost.  Instead, it estimates the shipping cost using Fed Ex Ground service.  You will receive an email with the actual shipping cost within one business day.  Your order will be processed upon receipt of your approval of the actual shipping cost.

The Freight Company may call before attempting the delivery. However, that is only a courtesy and it is NOT to set an appointment. The order will be delivered curbside and there must be an adult present to sign-for and receive the delivery. The consignee should inspect the item BEFORE they sign for receipt.

The following will result in additional charges to the consignee:

* Request to stipulate the Day, Time, or Alternate Location of the delivery

* Request to have the order carried from the curb to the inside of a structure or dwelling

* Delays because a consignee cannot be reached, or is not home

n the Event of Concealed Damage, we must receive a report within 4 Business Days of Delivery. The report must include the Pro Number (tracking), the name, address and phone number of the recipient.

As with all damage claims the recipient must retain all packing materials, and the pallet, until the claim is resolved.

Holiday Hours

EnSoul Music observes the following holidays:

Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2019

Independence Day, Thursday, July 4, 2019

Labor Day, Monday, September 2, 2019

Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 28, 2019

Christmas, Wednesday, December 25, 2019

New Year's, Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Become a Reseller

Looking for profitable unique products to offer to your customers? EnSoul Music Designs and makes over 450 different instruments. Some instruments are used in bands, or for personal meditation. Others are used in Music Therapy, promoting healing and growth. Many reflect histories dating back thousands of years. Together they represent cultures and philosopies from around the globe.

Reasons to become a reseller today:

  • Wholesale prices are available to resellers.
  • Most wholesale orders are shipped within one business day.
  • Free drop ship services for orders placed online.
  • Wholesale orders are accepted via phone, fax, email, and online.
  • A shipping allowance applies to each $1,000 in wholesale ordered.

Application Instructions:

  • Contact Customer Service at Info@EnSoulMusic.com or 800-673-1517.
  • You will be sent an Application.
  • You will be asked to Fax your business license to 321-952-1080.
  • If you are in Florida, also fax your Florida Resale Certificate.

If you qualify to become a reseller, our Customer Service Team will email you all of the necessary information and help you set up your account, and you are on your way!

Find an authorized reseller and visit their store.

Authorized re-sellers of EnSoul Musical Instruments may stock items on their shelves. You may find one close to your location, which you can visit.

FIND A RESELLER - Click Here.

International shipping restrictions, C.I.T.E.S. and Sheesham

Many of our popular items are manufactured in walnut and/or lacewood can be exported easily. Due to 2017 changes in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), items that contain sheesham wood cannot be exported with out approved permits.

The CITES convention requires verification of the wood's origins and is intended to manage the conservation of the rosewood (sheesham Dalbergia) from Madagascar and other sensitive species. There are about 100-150 species of sheesham Dalbergia found from the Americas to Asia.

Sheesam is an ornamental wood, long prized because of the fine grain, rich color and workability. The sheesham wood used in our Instruments is not on the endangered list, and comes from sustainability grown on plantations in India and Pakistan. Young trees are widely spaced to accommodate secondary crops such as rice, maize, beans, cassava, mango, annona, jackfruit, and guava. As the leaf canopies begin to close, shade crops, like turmeric and ginger, are planted. The nitrogen- rich foliage is harvested as a green manure and fodder, and tannins from the bark are used to produce medicines.

Our decision to make instruments in walnut and lacewood was due to the CITES permit process which is cumbersome, costly and delayed the shipping of orders by several weeks. We hope you will appreciate the beauty of the walnut and lacewood instruments we offer.

Product Information Sheets - Owner Guides
Balalaika Owner Guide
DRUMS - Doumbeks, Dhols, Tupans, Bodhrans and more
Bodhrans; Frame Drums; Tars; etc.
What is the difference between the exterior and interior tunable bodhrans?

External tunable bodhrans have hardware on the outside of the frame that is hooked to a metal ring holding the head in place. The exterior hardware may make playing more cumbersome, but these drums are usually less expensive than interior tuned drums. Internal tunable bodhrans have the hardware in the inside of the frame to adjust a wooden ring under the head. While more expensive, they are lighter in weight than exterior hardware.

What is that little hole on the frame for?

It is not to hold your tipper. Some players hold the frame like a deff and may try to put their thumb in the hole. I don't find that very comfortable. You may also find bodhran frames that have a cut-out section; especially in deep frames. This section allows you a more comfortable way to access the head from the back side as you play. If your drum does not have one, don’t be worried, most bodhrans don’t.

Can a slipped head be fixed?

Occasionally, a natural skin head will pull away from the frame, or "slip" off. The logical question is "Can I re-mount the head?"

When a drum head is mounted, the head is four or more inches BIGGER than necessary. After it is mounted it is trimmed. Therefore, you really can't re-mount a trimmed head that may have slipped.

If you want a fun project, you can mount a new skin to your drum. Remember to get one at least 4-inches larger than your drum's diameter. If the drum is a frame style (bodhran, tar or shaman style) you can remove the slipped head by wetting the glued edge and removing the the head. Just lay a damp cloth on the glued section to soften the glue. Remove the head and thoroughly dry the frame and then re-mount a new head.

Doumbeks, Darbukas
How to replace a head on an aluminum or copper doumbek.

You will need: your drum and a new, pre-mounted head. The drum’s tuning tool and a couple pieces of masking tape.

To ensure proper alignment, place a piece of tape on the collar and line up a corresponding piece of tape on the body. Do not skip this step!

Use the tuning wrench to remove the screws.

Remove the collar and the old head.

Place the new head on the drum. Push it on, over the drum-body lip; it may be snug.

Place the collar over the head, being careful to line up the pieces of tape so it is in the original position. This will ensure that the screw-holes line up properly.

Insert the screws and tighten each one just a little at a time. Hop from one screw to another, working around the drum in a ‘Star” pattern. Do NOT fully tighten one screw at a time, and do NOT tighten in a clock, or counter-clock-wise pattern. Doing either of these will cause the collar to tilt as it goes on and you will not be able to re-head your drum correctly.

Play the drum as you tighten the head until you get the pitch you like.

Do not over tighten, take your time. If the head doesn’t appear to be going on evenly take the collar off and adjust the head.

Djembes
How to tune a rope-tuned drum?

The traditional ashiko and djembe drums have heads that are held in place, and tuned, by ropes. By weaving the loose end of the rope, in a specific pattern, you add tension to the head. To see how to weave in the tension go to:
http://www.mid-east.com/Rope-Tuned-Drums-Guide.pdf

Drum Heads
Can a hole in a natural skin drum head be fixed?

If the hole is not getting bigger, and the drum sounds good, you may not want to tamper with a good thing. If you are afraid it will tear, there are a few things you can try. If the hole is small, just close up the hole with super or white glue; apply a little glue to both the inside and outside of the drum head around the hole to close it up. There are also some commercial patch kits available. Lastly, drums can also be re-headed; it makes a fun project for any DYI warrior.

Are synthetic heads any good?

Certainly, even though the head is synthetic it can still have a good sound. These heads don’t react to temperature and humidity the way natural skins do; making them nicer for playing outside.

What can I do if the drum head seems too tight?

If the head is a natural skin it will react to humidity; more humidity causes the head to go dead, dry air will tighten the head. If your drum experiences a lot of environmental changes, try not to over-tighten the head. If you have a tunable bodhran, just back off the tension on the head. If the head is fixed there may be little you can do. An old wife’s tale recommends a few drops of beer rubbed into the head. Don’t believe it; the sugars in the beer will reduce flexibility of the head. To temporarily loosen the head, you can try a little bit of water, rubbed evenly into the head. This is not a method we recommend you rely on repeatedly. A little oil, head conditioner, or moisturizer will permanently loosen the skin, so be careful.

What can I do if the drum head seems too loose?

Again, take into account the humidity and adjust accordingly. For a tunable head, just increase the tension on the head. For fixed heads you need to remove the humidity. There are a number of ways to do this; some are more dangerous than others. An easier way is the soak and dry method. Take a wet cloth and lay it on the head. Do not let it drip or hang over the edges; keep the glued areas of the head dry. Let it stand an hour or so. Then remove the cloth and let the had dry naturally, overnight. Just like your favorite leather shoes, after walk in the rain, the skin will tighten up as it dries. It is not recommended to soak and dry your head repeatedly. NOTE: If the drum is a tabla, water must NEVER get on the gaab (center black dot). Another way to remove the humidity form a head is to add heat. Keep your hand on the drum head while you apply heat, if it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your drum. You can use a heating pad or a blow dryer, or any other heat source. [Adding Heat should only be attempted by experienced players.]

Comparing drum heads: natural skin vs. synthetic

In general, there are two types of drum head: Synthetic or natural skin.

Synthetic heads produce clear and crisp sounds in a wide variety of pitches. With synthetic heads you don't have to worry about heat and humidity effecting the performance of the heads.

Synthetic heads can be clear, opaque, imprinted with designs, or multi-layered. The more homogeneous the head material the ‘cleaner’ the sound. Multi layered heads or heads with non-homogeneous materials (like Remo’s fiberskyn) create sounds with multi over and under tones. Heads made with non-homogeneous synthetic material, replicate the sounds produced by natural skins.

Heads made of natural skins, provide lower more subtle tones. A skin with hair on it still has the natural oils which produce more subtle and lower bass tones. Also, the hair (and therefore, natural oils) promotes strength. A skin without hair produces a crisper sound with higher pitches. Natural skin will absorb moisture from your hands and the environment, causing the head to go slack and lose pitch. Calfskin is more translucent than goatskin. It produces higher tones and sharper pitches. Drums played with mallets usually use calfskin, since it tends to be stronger than goatskin. Goatskin has a dryer look, like parchment paper, and it is not transparent.

What is a "doum" and a "tec"?

Doum and Tec is “drum-speak” for the specific sounds made by distinctive hits of a drum head. Doum is the sound achieved by hitting the center of the drumhead; and is therefore the name of that type of hit. Tec is the sound/name used by drummers which refers to hitting the head close to the drum edge. You may find rhythms written as: doum, tec, doum, doum, tec…..

Re-heading a skin head on a hardware tuned drum

Re-heading a skin head on a hardware tuned drum ( illustration below)

  1. Loosen the tuning bolts a little at a time until the hardware is free (hint: working in a star pattern starting at bolt #1 then #2, #3 #4, #5, #6, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 1,… keeps the head level and stops it from binding).
  2. Remove the Top Tuning Ring and lift off the old head. Peel the old Goat Skin off the Mounting Ring, and save the Mounting Ring for your new head.
  3. Trim your goatskin to the proper size (see the Practice Steps*) and immerse the skin in lukewarm water for approximately 15 minutes; checking every 6 minutes. The skin should be just pliable. Do not over soak. Remove the skin from the water and blot dry. Drape it over the drum. Center it and smooth out the wrinkles.
  4. Place the Mounting Ring over the wet skin and push it down over the drum’s frame (hint: The Mounting Ring should be low enough to allow enough space for the Top Tuning Ring to stay below the drum’s playing surface).
  5. Fold the edges of the skin up over the Mounting Ring toward the center of the head. Place the Top Tuning Ring down on top of the folded-up wet skin until it makes contact with the Mounting Ring.
  6. Replace the hardware and loosely secure the hooks over the Top Tuning Ring. Alternately tighten the hardware and pull the skin (hint: remember the star pattern). Keep the Top Tuning Ring below the drum’s playing surface.
  7. Periodically, lay a straight edge, or ruler, across the drum’s frame from side to side. The head is mounted properly, when the skin sags slightly below the edge of the ruler. For Frame Drums, the skin should sag no more than 1/16 inch below level for each 10” in diameter; for Bodhrans, the sag should be 1/8 - 3/16 inch below level. The skin shrinks as it dries and will naturally tighten.
  8. Allow the skin to dry 24 – 48 hours.
  9. Carefully, with a utility knife, trim the excess skin along the upper edge of the Top Tuning Ring.

*Practice Steps

If this is your first time to re-head a drum, practice steps 3-5 using a dry piece of newspaper (for practice omit the soaking). This will also give you a template for the head size that you will need. Remember, the head will be trimmed after it dries, so 2-4 inches or larger than required is recommended.

Idiopans - Tunable Steel Tongue Drums
What are the differences in the Models of Idiopan?

What are the differences in the Models of Idiopan?

Idiopans have: 4 sizes, 5 models, 100’s of tunings, lots of colors, and are available in acoustic or with an installed pick-up.

Bella: 6- inches in diameter, 6-tongues, very lightweight and portable, comes tuned to A Minor Pentatonic, ranging from A4-A5. The Bella has a very sweet voice. As expected for her size, the Bella has smaller tongues. It is tunable but there is no advanced magnet pack.

Lunabell: 8-inches in diameter, 8 tongues and comes tuned to A Major Pentatonic, ranging from E4-B5, lightweight size. The Lunabell has a very crisp high tones, and is the Soprano voice of the Idiopans. Advanced magnet pack, sold separately, allows tuning to 100’s of scales.

Domina: 12-inch, 8 tongues, comes tuned to C Major Pentatonic, ranging from G3-D5. The Domina is considered the Alto voice and its bigger tongues make the striking surface much easier to play than the smaller models. Sits comfortably in one's lap or even using a drum stand. Advanced magnet pack, sold separately, allows tuning to 100’s of scales.

Dominus: 14-inches in diameter, 10 tongues, ranging from E3-D5, comes tuned to the G Major Pentatonic scale, full bass tones without compromising any of the higher range. Advanced magnet pack, sold separately, allows tuning to 100’s of scales.

Don’t forget to watch the videos on our Idiopan Youtube Page: http://bit.ly/2hKMC1S

How do I care for the finish on my Idiopan?

Before your Idiopan shipped, it was hand-buffed with a liquid wax. Just a tiny bit, with a microfiber cloth. We sell the Roosebeck Microfiber Polishing Cloth, Item Code: RBSMFPCI. It works great. The Turtle Wax ™ Super Hard Shell, leaves a smooth, non-tacky, finish.

If you notice fingerprints or a haze on your Idiopan, you can clean it with rubbing alcohol. Again, use a soft, non-abrasive cloth. Then give it a new coat of wax that has a ‘Hard Shell’ finish when dry. Just a tiny bit of wax should do it.

NEVER use anything on the inside of the tongues, and don’t let the wax build up in the groves around the tongues. With care, the powder coated finish on the Idiopan should last for years.

Which Pickup do I need for my Idiopan?

All the Idiopan models are sold as acoustic or with a pickup installed. If you have an acoustic model, you may be able to install the pickup. All current models have a pre-drilled hole for the pickup, in the acoustic models the hole has a small rubber plug. If you do not have the pre-drilled hole, you cannot use the pickups we sell. In that case you will need to use an external mike.

If you can purchase the pickup, make sure you order the correct one. The Roosebeck contact pickup, with a quarter inch jack and highpass filter, is specifically designed for the Idiopan. It will arrive with easy to follow instructions for installation

My Idiopan developed a buzz or sounds dull, what can I do?

My Idiopan developed a buzz or sounds dull, what can I do?

You have been playing for weeks, or months, and enjoying the sound of your Idiopan. Then one day, you start to play and, you hear a strange reverb or buzz. It wasn’t there yesterday. Don’t panic. The culprit can be as small as a piece of lint!

Any obstruction, regardless of the size, can vibrate and create a buzz. Or an obstruction can hinder the tongue’s vibration and deaden the resonance.

First, clean all the cuts around each tongue. To do this, take a business card and insert it in a slit. Run the card around the slit to clear any obstruction.

If you still hear a buzz, clean the inside, bottom, of each tongue. You can do this with a microfiber cloth. If your Idiopan has an internal pick-up be careful not to disturb the electronics.

Lastly, if you still hear a buzz, remove each magnet* and inspect it for dust. Clean each magnet and under each tongue. Then re-install the magnet.

These suggestions should take care of any obstruction that is causing a buzz or deadening your sound.

* The easiest way to remove a magnet is to slide the magnet down the tongue toward the mid-line of the drum (inside). The magnet will eventually be off the tongue and on the inside body of the drum. Then, keeping the magnet on the body of the drum, slide it between two tongues up to the opening of the drum. You can then pull it off the drum and examine it for and debris.

Tabla
Replacements heads, how to measure your tabla

If your table is currently without a head, measure the outside diameter of the drum's shell: from the outer rim to the opposite outer rim. If your tabla still has the head in place, measure the diameter inside of the braid.

It is not uncommon for a tabla shell to be out-of-round, in which case use the largest measurement

The replacement tabla heads sold by EnSoul are measured to 1/4 of an inch (i.e. 5-inch, 5.25-inch, 5.5- inch, etc). If the measurement on your head is even a little bit over the size, it is best to go to the next size up. It is very difficult or impossible to stretch a smaller head to fit on to a larger shell. It is best to order the next size up. For example I would recommend using a 5.25-inch head for the one that measures 5.125-inch.

Tabla, Are they tuned, and to what pitch?

We do take care to bring the tabla sets up to pitch when we inspect them. However, that set may not ship for a while; during that time the head and the lacing swill have stretched. You should expect that your set will need to be tuned when you receive it. If you are not experienced at tuning a tabla, then don’t even try it. It takes years of practice to quickly tune a tabla without damaging the head.

If you are looking for a specific pitch, you need to pick your set by the head size of the dayan. Here is a list of the diameter of the dayan vs. expected pitch:

5 inches = D to D#
5.25 inches = C to C# 5.5 inches = B to C#
5.75 inches = G# to Bb
6 inches = F# to A#
These are approximate. Skin thickness, thickness of syahi, and drum quality are other factors in the pitch of a tabla.
C is denoted to middle C.

SHOP for TABLA, Click Here.

Syahi is falling off the tabla head

The black spot on East Indian drum heads is a “gob,” "Karani" or "syahi." It is applied to the outside of the drum head and acts as a resonant weight. It may be one layer or applied in layers depending on the drum. When playing this type of drum head, you may want to keep some talcum powered on your fingers; since the moisture form your hands can shorten the life of the gob.

When it begins to fall off what do you do? First, don't panic. Sometimes small pieces, about 1/8-inch square, will pop off. The head is still playable. If you hear buzzing coming from your head, it may be about to pop a piece. Until you lose, bigger chunks, just keep playing.

If you live in India, you may be able to find someone to re-apply the gob. It is a skill acquired over decades and is not something a novice can attempt (even if you have the correct mixture of rice powered and iron fillings). if you don't live in India, you have 2 choices: get a new head or try the following.

You can add a thin layer of 100% silicon to the inside of the head. Yes the inside. You can't replace the gob with silicon on the outside of the head, because the silicon creates a surface that is always “tacky.” Also, no matter how carefully you apply it you will not get a nice smooth surface like the gob.

So you need to remove the head, scrape off any gob residue and apply the silicon on the inside. Use only about as much as a small walnut. You want to spread it to be about 1/8-inch thick and cover the same area as the gob covered. Let it dry 24 hours and re-install your head.

I dented my Bayan, what do I do?

Turn the dent toward the wall. Really! We are not trying to be sarcastic. A dent rarely affects the sound.

It may not be nice to look but don’t worry about it. When the time comes, and you are ready to re-head your drum you can work on the dent then. With the head off, you can beat the dent out from the inside. You can use a rubber mallet, a baseball or ever a plain hammer with a thick covering of cloth. Just work slowly and you should be able to remove the dent.

2-Headed Drums: Dhols, Dholaks, Hudak, Mridangum, Medieval, Naals, Talking, etc.
How to re-head a rope tuned Dholak

BEFORE YOU START

Study the drum. Take some time to see how the rope is wrapped, where it starts, how it is tied, and where the metal tuning-rings are located. With your finger, follow the rope from one head to the other. Starting at Hole #1, the rope goes to across the shell and down to Hole #2. When the rope returns up and across the shell, it skips the hole next to #1 and goes to Hole #3. After you have traced 9 holes, you will find the thread goes through the holes you skipped the first time. See Illustration below.

You may want to put a piece of masking tape on the drum shell, and up over the good head. You can use your fingernail to split he tape; leave half on the head and half on the drum shell. This way, when you replace the heads, you can easily get the head back in the right place, on the correct side by just lining up the tape.

When you are ready, untie the knot at the ends of the rope, and loosen all the ropes. “Unlace” the rope from both heads, do not lose the metal Tuning-rings as you do this. DO NOT pull the rope through the holes too quickly. Pulling fast creates friction and heat that can damage your heads or drum shell. Once you have the damaged head free, discard it.

*TIP* It may be easier to affix the heads securely in place with masking tape. It will make lacing the heads to the drum a bit easier.

*TIP* Always thread the head from the bottom side, next to the drum shell, then over the outer ring of the head, down along the drum shell to the bottom side of the opposite head.

*TIP* Hole #1 should be on the base, larger, side of the drum, and tuning-rings are on the tenor, smaller side of the drum.

WHEN YOU START

Select any hole as Hole #1. Thread from the bottom side next to the drum shell, and then over the ring. Leave about 8 inches of rope free. Use the log part of the rope to lace the heads into place. DO NOT pull the rope through the holes too quickly. Pulling fast creates friction and heat that can damage your heads or drum shell.

From Hole #1: Thread through the metal tuning-ring. Down and across to Hole #2, on the opposite end of the drum. *TIP* Hole #2 is not directly in line with Hole #1, you are always skipping one hole.

From Hole #2: Go up and across the drum shell, through the same tuning-ring, along the drum shell, through Hole #3, from the bottom side of the head, and then over the rim of the head. Remember to skip hole #2.

From Hole #3: Go through a second tuning-ring, down and across the drum shell, through Hole #4, from the bottom side of the head, and then over the rim of the head. Remember to skip a hole between #2 and #4.

From Hole #4: go up and across the drum shell, through the second tuning-ring, along the drum shell, through Hole #5, from the bottom side of the head, and then over the rim of the head. Remember to skip a hole between #3 and #5.

Continue around the drum until you complete Hole #9. Hole #9 should be directly next to Hole #1. From Hole #9, you continue the pattern of lacing, and fill in the “Skipped” holes. Tie the ends of the tope together; don’t cut off any excess.

TUNING THE HEADS

When all holes are laced, and all the tuning-rings are in place, push the tuning-rings away from the center of the drum, and next to the head (they should all be on one end of the drum). Then, starting at the knot, pull the rope to tighten the heads. It’s like lacing a shoe, pull from one hole to the next until the slack in the rope is gone. You want the ropes to be tight enough so the heads sound good. After you remove all the slack, re-tie the ends of the rope together, DO NOT cut off any extra rope just wrap it around the drum. The tuning-rings can now be pulled toward the center of the drum to add tension and for fine adjustments on the tuning of the heads.

It’s not that hard, it just takes some time. Remember BEFORE you start, look to see how the rope is wrapped, where it starts and how it is tied, and where the tuning-rings are located.

Tuning rope tuned medieval drums

The natural goatskin heads will adjust to the environment. If they are taken into a humid area the heads will sound dull and may be floppy. If that is the case- don’t tune the heads until you get back to a dryer stable environment. If the heads go floppy from humidity, and you tune them, you risk damaging the heads when they dry out and tighten up again.

The Heads are held on to the drum shell, and tuned, by the same cords. Tuning involves removing slack from the cords.

The quick way of tuning is to pull the leather tuning pads up the side of the drum. That adds tension to the cords and will increase the pitch of the heads.

Another way is to add twists on the tuning cords. There should be one set of twists in the tuning-cords already, add a second row of twists. Before you start, make sure the leather tuning pads are slide down, so they are not adding any tension. Then, add additional twist into the tuning cords by weaving in a new cord around the drum. Be careful not to put too much tension on the heads. You may only need to twist every other set of cords, or every third. Here is the Djembe Guide to weaving rope tuning http://www.mid-east.com/Rope-Tuned-Drums-Guide.pdf

If you need to take out a lot of slack, you may need to pull the slack out (like taking the slack out of your shoe laces, you work from one end to the other pulling out the slack). If you pull the cord through the holes in the head, you must do this SLOWLY. Going fast creates friction and heat and can burn through the head. You should not have to do this until you replace the heads.

The black spot is falling off! Mridangams, Naals, Pakhawaj, Madals & Tablas

The black spot on East Indian drum heads is a “gob,” "Karani" or "syahi" (pronounced cee- hi). It helps give the tabla its distinctive sound. The syahi is applied to the outside of the drum head and acts as a resonant weight. When playing this type of drum head, you may want to keep some talcum powered on your fingers; since the moisture form your hands can shorten the life of the gob.

The syahi is applied in layers; each layer is a bit small that the previous one. Get out a magnification glass and look at the sayhi. There should be some sheen to its surface. Look closely and you will see hairline cracks on the surface of the layers. These cracks are an integral part of how the sayhi operates. The cracks act as expansion joints that let the sayhi flex while the drum head is vibrating and still remain intact. As a head ages, these cracks will widen. Eventually small bits of the syahi will dislodge and flake off.

When it begins to fall off what do you do? First, don't panic. Sometimes small pieces, about 1/8-inch square, will pop off. The head is still playable. If you hear buzzing coming from your head, it may be about to pop a piece. Until you lose, bigger chunks, just keep playing.

If you live in India, you may be able to find someone to re-apply the gob. It is a skill acquired over decades and is not something a novice can attempt (even if you have the correct mixture of glue, graphite, rice powered and iron fillings). if you don't live in India, you need to get a new head. The HEAD SIZE is measured across the playing surface from the inside-braid-edge to the opposit inside-braid-edge. This should also be the outside diameter of the drum shell under the head.

Some drums, like mridangam or dhol, may have the gob on the inside. You can replace this gob with a thin layer of 100% silicon to the inside of the head. Yes the inside. You can't replace the gob with silicon on the outside of the head, because the silicon creates a surface that is always “tacky.” Also, no matter how carefully you apply it you will not get a nice smooth surface like the gob.

So you need to remove the head, scrape off any gob residue and apply the silicon on the inside. Use only about as much as a small walnut. You want to spread it to be about 1/8-inch thick and cover the same area as the gob covered. Let it dry 24 hours and re-install your head.

String Instruments - Harps, Guitars, Sitars, Psaltery and more
Harps by Roosebeck
How to tune a harp.

There is a saying: A Celtic harpist spends half their time tuning the harp, and the other half playing it out of tune. Well it’s not really that bad; but you do need to become proficient at tuning your harp. The more often you tune, the faster you will become. If you don’t have a piano, you will need a chromatic tuner, which will display the notes you play.

Before you begin, dis-engage all the sharpening levers. NOTE: make sure you are tuning the string to the correct octave, the longer string might hold a note that is an octave too high, but the thinner shorter strings will break (the first time you tune a harp you may want to start with the shortest string first, to make sure you get the correct octaves). Tune all the Red-C-strings first, starting with the longest and working to the shortest. Then, in the same manner, tune all the Blue-F-strings. Then tune all the Clear-A,B,D,E,G-strings. Tuning Red, Blue then Clear helps to equalize the tension over the soundboard and from string to string. Hold the harp in a playing position. With your right hand, place the tuning tool on one of the tuning pegs. As you pluck the string with your left hand, your right hand turns the peg away from you. Make sure you are tuning the correct string, or you may break strings by over tuning. As you turn the peg, the pitch of the string will go up. Tune the string to slightly higher than the note required, then back the tuning down to the whole note for more stability.

For more details see our Blog Section: https://ensoulmusic.com/blogs/news/how-to-tune-your-harp

How do I stop my harp tuning peg from slipping out of tune?

First, determine if the tuning peg is holding fast: tune the string; with the tuning tool on the peg just let go of the tool.

If the tuning tool does not move, your pegs are not slipping. in this case read the FAQ titled:What is Flex-Memory?.

If you can see the tool spinning backwards, the tuning peg is not holding fast. The tuning pegs on the Roosebeck Brand harps sold by EnSoul Music, are tapered and hold fast by friction. Usually, pushing in, wiggling back and forth, or gently tapping in, the peg while tuning is enough to “seat” the peg.

If that does not work, you can remove the peg, by tapping from the opposite side (the string side), and shim the peg with paper a thin piece of paper (1/4 x 2 inches). Hold the paper by one end, insert it into the peg hole, re-install the tuning peg and trim off any paper that shows. Violin Peg dope may help with slipping. For a long-term fix, plug the hole with wood and re-drill for long term fix.

What is Flex Memory and Why are my harp strings going out of tune so quickly? -

If your harps strings are going out of tune before you finish your song, you must have a new harp, or new strings. A new harp will require frequent tuning in the first few weeks. Stretching the strings (and a new soundboard) is called “flex-memory.” It’s like trying to touch your toes, each time you try you stretch a little more, until you can touch them easily. With new strings it is common to tune it 3 or 4 times a day for a few weeks.

The first time you play on new strings, bring the strings up to pitch slowly, then play each string vigorously. This will stretch the strings, and seat the knot in the bottom of the string. Continue to tune and play each day, as often as you can. Tonal stability will increase with age and it can take several months for a new harp to develop its bright voice.

Nylon strings can also go out of tune if they are exposed to changing temperatures. Sudden exposure to much warmer air will loosen strings. While cold air will constrict your strings, and sharpen their pitch. Try to keep your harp at constant temperatures, away from heating or cooling vents. If you must move your harp, try to anticipate the environmental changes and if necessary, remove some tension on the strings first.

If it is actually your tuning pegs that are not holding fast, see the FAQ titled: How do I stop my harp tuning peg from slipping out of tune?

Which tuning tool do I get for my harp?

There are 4 sizes of Harp Tuning tool:

HPTN (standard), HPTS (small), HPTXS (extra small) & HPTN-OS (oversized).

The HPTN works for the majority of the harps. Harps from 12-string to 38-strings with tuning pegs measuring 0.2 inches on a side (5.08 mm).

The HPTS works for the smaller harps having 8 or 10 strings, with tuning pegs measuring 0.16 inches on a side (4.064 mm). Such as the: Parisian Harp (HP08), Lily Harp (HLLA), Kinnors (HKNM & HKNA), Lyres (HLRT & HLRE), and the Beritone Psaltery.

The HPXS is for the Round Back Soprano and Alto Psaltery with tuning pegs measuring 0.133 inches on a side (3.37 mm).

The HPTN-OS are for the HMGA Meghan Harps sold before 2010, with tuning pegs measuring 0.220-0.227 inches on a side (5.6-5.8 mm).

If you are not sure, measure one of the sides of the square end and diameter of the square head on your tuning peg, and we can try to get one to fit.

My harp’s soundboard is bowed up about an inch or more. Is that normal?

Yes, some bowing is normal. That is why you tune a new harp so frequently the nylon strings and the wooden sound board are stretching.

Can I upgrade my Celtic harp from the Pole-levers to the Cam Levers?

We have the cam levers on the contemporary harps, however significant modifications are needed to install cam levers on the Celtic harps, it’s not recommended.

What sized tuning pins are available?

The tuning pins, or tuning pegs, are installed along the top of the harp; just above the bridge pins. They are tapered and pass through the harp’s frame. The string is wrapped around one side, and the other side is squared off to accept the tuning tool.

Measure the length of your tuning pin to find the correct replacement.

Harp Tuning Pins meant to fit the Pixie Harp, Heather Harp, and Minstrel Harp are approximately 2 5/8 inches long.

Tuning pins meant to fit the smaller harps, Lily and 8-string Parisian, are approximately 1.75 inches in length.

There are also tuning pins meant to fit the smaller harps, Lily and 8-string Parisian, which are approximately 2 inches in length.

All Roosebeck Brand Celtic harps sold by EnSoul (except Lilly) should be using the same size and taper pin. The Contemporary, Round Back, harps use several different pins, they may not be compatible with Celtic harps.

Kinnor - Mini Kinnor HKNM can it be tuned to a Pentatonic Scale?

We believe the Mini Kinnor could accommodate the G-Major or the A-Major Pentatonic Scale.

We looked at E-Major and do not think the strings will accommodate that scale.

Because these are Biblical Harps, you can use "Insperational Tuning" - which means find the notes that inspire you to play, sing, laugh and share your music.

Harp String Buzzes

Buzzing indicates there is an obstruction in the harmonic vibrations of the harp. When plucked, a string vibrates. The vibrations pass through the harp and can even affect objects nearby. If you only hear the buzz when you play in one room- it may be something in the room.

For a buzz caused by a vibrating string.

CHECK THE LEVERS

  • Pole Levers have one or two poles that act as frets to shorten the Scale Length of the string to raise the pitch one half step.
  • Cam Levers have a graduated flange, or edge, that acts as a fret to shorten the Scale Length of the string to raise the pitch one half step.

First: Make sure each string rests properly in the notch on each bridge pin.

Second: With the lever fully disengaged (down), make sure the string does not vibrate against any part of the lever when plucked. I fit does, tap the bridge pin in or pull it out to, move the string away from the obstruction. This adjustment should be in very small increments, about 1/16 of an inch or less. Once the string vibrates freely, the buzzing will stop.

Third: With the levers disengaged, make sure each lever is secured to the harp. Pluck a string while simultaneously touching the screw in the base of the lever. If the buzzing stops, the screw may be loose.

Fourth: With the levers disengaged, make sure each lever is perpendicular to the floor. An over-titled lever can obstruct a string's vibration. If you need to adjust the tilt of the lever, loosen the screw holding the lever to the harp by ¼ turn at time, until you can straighten the lever, then re-tighten the screw (do not remove the screw).

Last: With each lever fully engaged (press it up), make sure the string is firmly contacted by the lever’s fret. If the contact is weak adjust the bridge pin as described above.

NOTE: Moving the Lever or the bridge pin can affect the intonation of the string when the lever is engaged. Therefore, minimize any movement of these pieces.

CHECK THE STRING KNOT

At the base of each string, inside the harp, is a knot. Sometimes a loop, or the end of the string buzzes against the inside of the harp. Ask someone to pluck a string as you reach into the back of the harp and check each knot. When you find the offending knot, twist or wiggle it into a new position. If it still buzzes, give the string a good yank. If necessary, loosen the string, re-seat the knot and re-tune the string.

Occasionally, the buzz is from two parts of the harp that no longer have a tight connection.

CHECK THE HARP BODY

While plucking the strings push or stabilizing different parts of the harp. Check the joints of the pillar, the arm and the sound-box. If you have grommets around the string holes on the soundboard, check each of those. Don’t forget to check the feet and inside the harp too. When the buzzing stops, you have located the right spot. Once you've found the source of the buzz, it's usually easy to fix it. It may be a little as a drop of glue, but check with a repair person first.

Buzzing can also be from how you play the harp.

CHECK YOUR TECHNIQUE

If you are switching between different harps, remember to not over-play a harp. If you play a pedal harp or a larger harp with gut strings, and you try the same playing technique on a smaller harp, you might be over-playing the smaller harp. A harp that is over-played can buzz. Use the proper touch for your harp.

My Harp String Set is missing strings – or is it?

Most Likely your harp string set is not missing any strings. When the color and gauge (thickness) of a string is the same for multiple spots on your harp, your string set will have one very long string that can be cut to fit.

For example, in a 38-string set there may only be 20 individual pieces of string. But there is enough length of string for all 38 spots on your harp.

Look through your new string set carefully and identify the strings that need to be cut to length. DO NOT simply cut a long string into 2 or 4 equal pieces. Remember the strings on your harp are of different lengths. You can use the broken string as reference for the length. Or measure the distance you need, adding about 3-4 inches for the knot and to wrap around the tuning pin.

Did You Know, that if you break a string you should replace it as son as possible. The loss of one string will put additional tension on the strings to either side of it. This additional stress could cause these strings to fail sooner.

Bulbul Tarang & Shahi Baaja
Bulbul Tarang, how to tune one.

Tuning the bulbul tarang is very easy. There are two types of strings: the melody strings and the drone strings. The melody strings run directly under the key-plate and are fretted by the keys. The drone strings run beside the key plate and are not fretted.

Tune Melody the strings first. Since all the strings are the same gage (thickness), you can tune the melody strings to the same note. Which note, you ask. It’s best to let the strings guide you. Go slowly to a pitch that is comfortable. If they are too tight, you may break the strings. If they are too loose, they will sound dull. You can leave them all at the same pitch, or mix it up. You can detune a couple strings, about 5 - 10 cents lower. This will produce a richer tone.

Next, you orient yourself to the keyboard. Decide which key is going to be your tonic. In India it will usually be either the "C" position or the "B" position. When you have decided what your tonic is going to be, tune the drone strings to the first (C) or the fifth (G).

Long-Necked Family: Guitars, Lutes, Ouds, Ukulele..
Wooden Tunign Pegs: Sticking or Slipping

Wooden pegs are a centuries old method of tuning strings. As such, they have ‘stood the test of time.’ However, they still have some drawbacks. The pegs and their matching holes are tapered. Therefore, the more precise the fit, the better the pegs operate. If your pegs are well fitted to the holes, and well maintained, they will last for decades. However over time, use, humidity and temperature changes can cause wood pegs to slip or to bind; making tuning difficult. If you are experiencing a peg that slips or sticks:

First, LOOK FOR DAMAGE.

Second, LOOSEN THE PEG, push the peg out from the opposite side while turning. You don’t need to remove it, just loosen it. Then re- insert the peg and try again. As you tighten the string, exert a bit of pressure on the peg. With your dominant hand turning the peg and pressing it into the head-stock, your other hand should support the head-stock on the opposite side. Pegs are delicate and too much pressure can result in damage.

Lastly, TRY AN ABRASIVE OR LUBRICANT. Apply VERY SPARINGLY, to the part of the peg that contacts the pegbox. Too much is as bad as nothing as all. You should not need to use these products often, and should shy away from doing so. After you apply a sparing amount to the peg-shaft (the part of the peg that contacts the pegbox), re-insert the peg and turn it a few times to distribute the compound.

For a SLIPPING PEG

Remove the peg and apply of these products to the surface of the peg-shaft:

  1. Peg Rosin (commercial product sold in liquid form)
  2. Talcum Powder
  3. Side-Walk Chalk (must be wax-less)

For a STICKING PEG

Remove the peg and apply of these products to the surface of the peg-shaft:

  1. Peg Dope (commercial product sold in ‘lip-stick’ tube form)
  2. Graphite powder (sold commercially, or scrape the graphite from a pencil)
  3. Dry Soap (the more-pure the soap the better; hygroscopic soaps absorb moisture and will swell the peg)
  4. Hard Wax
Can I easily switch the string set-up from Right-Hand to Left-Hand playing?

EnSoul offers a number of instruments that are designed for Left-Handed players. Not all instruments have Left-Handed models and it can take more than just switching the strings.

Unfortunately there is no one simple answer, it depends on a number of factors. Here are a few examples of when you can and can not easily switch the string set up.

OUDS:

Not all of the ouds can be switched to accommodate left-hand players.

The reasons an oud would not be able to be switched are:

  • If the finger board does not come down to the same distance on the top and bottom strings
  • If the pick guard is not symmetric

Depending on current stock, there may or may not be ouds that can be switched. To see stock Visit: OUDS

BOUZOUKI

The bouzouki should be easy to switch to a left-handed set-up. The strings will need to be removed and their order reversed. The bridge is free floating and will also need to be reversed to accommodate the order of the strings. To see stock Visit: Bouzouki

BOUZOUKI:

The bouzouki should be easy to switch to a left-handed set-up. The strings will need to be removed and their order reversed. The bridge is free floating and will also need to be reversed to accommodate the order of the strings. To see stock Visit: Bouzouki

BALALAIKA

The non-symmetrical fret-board makes it impossible to switch the strings to a proper left-handed set up. Sorry it is not possible.

LUTES:

The Lutes should NOT be switched to accommodate a left-handed player because:

  • The bridge has a taper in thickness and width from left to right which is designed to work with the different string gages.
  • Also there are 3 or 4 wood frets mounted on the soundboard that would not function properly if the strings were reversed for a left-handed player.
When I tune a string nothing happens, then it jumps to a new note, or breaks.

Sometimes, on a new instrument, you can turn the tuning peg and the string does not change notes. Then all of a sudden it jumps to a new note. The string may even snap break near the bridge or nut.

When a string jumps in stead of smoothly sliding through notes as you add tension, it usually means it is being pinched by the nut or bridge. The string gets caught in one of the groove of the nut or bridge. Sometimes the groves are cut too narrow. The string gets pinched in the grove and as you turn the tuning peg the string seems not to change. Then when it is pulled out of the grove, the note jumps to another key. If the sides of the grove are sharp this may cause the string to break.

There is an easy solution: Take an Emory board, or a folded piece of very find sandpaper, and run it back and forth in the nut grove a few times. This will smooth the edges and slightly widen the grove.

Berimbau
Can you tune a Berimbau?

Can you tune a Berimbau? Yes, you can; to a limited extent. The Berimbau can be tuned by sliding the gourd a little up or down along the bow. this will change the "scale length" of the wire and the pitch of the instrument when played.

If you need to re-string the Berimbau, side the gourd off the bow. Then, carefully, untie the cord holding the steel string to the end of the bow. Lay the bow across two chairs and gently press down on the center of the bow. Do not over bend the bow, you are not trying to create enough tension to make a Bow and Arrow set! Now re-tie the steel wire on to the bow. Pull it taught across the ends of the bow. Warp the free end of the wire string over the end of the bow and then around the bow a few times and tie it securely with the cord. There should be some slack, remember you still have to tie on the gourd. Now tie the gourd back order the bow and string.

How do you play the Berimbau?

o play the Berimbau, hold it in your less dominate hand (if you are a lefty- hold it in your right hand, if you are right-handed, hold it in your left hand). Wrap the two middle fingers around the bow, and place the little finger under the string loop tied to the gourd. In this way you can balance the weight. Place the noting-stone between the index and thumb of the same hand that holds the Berimbau. In your dominate hand, hold the plectrum (stick) and the caxixi. The opening of the gourd should face your abdomen.

To sound the instrument, tap out rhythms on the string with the plectrum. Pressing the stone against the string as you play will "note" the string, just like noting a guitar. The motion of your dominate hand will also add the shee-shee sound from the rattling caxixi.

To vary the tone even more, alternate pressing the open mouth of the gourd against your abdomen and pulling it away. Opening and closing the gourd will produce a wah-wah sound. The sound of the Berimbau is less a factor of the size, though the length of the string will alter the notes. It is more a factor of the diameter and hardness of the bow’s wood and the quality of the gourd.

Sitar, Tanpura and other Indian Stringed Instruments
What note is that? Swara – Indian Musical Notation

The notes, or swaras, of Indian music each have a name. They are: Shadjam, Rishabham, Gandharam , Madhyamam, Panchamam, Dhaivatam and Nishadam. Collectively these notes are known as the sargam, which is an acronym for Sa-R(i,e)-Ga-M(a).

Indian classical music is both elaborate and expressive. Like Western classical music, it divides the octave into 12 semitones of which the 7 basic notes are, in ascending tonal order, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni for Hindustani music and Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni for Carnatic music, similar to Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti in the Western tradition. However, Indian music uses just-intonation tuning, unlike most modern Western classical music, which uses the equal-temperament tuning system.

The first letter(s) of each swara are used as the written designation of the notes. There are several conventions used to designate pitches/octaves and sharps and flats. A dot above a letter, or an apostrophe to the right of a letter, indicates the note is one octave higher, a dot below, or an apostrophe to the left, indicates a note one octave lower. Multiple dots or apostrophes are used for sequential octaves. A line below a letter, or a lower-case letter, indicates it is flat (komal translated as soft), an acute accent above a letter, or a capital letter, indicates it is sharp (tivar). When a swara is natural is called shudda (translated as pure). For example, komal Re uses the letter r and the natural note, shuddha Re, uses the letter R. Likewise, ``g would be the komal Ga two octaves below the Sa.

Re, Ga, Dha, and Ni may be either shudda or komal. Ma may be either shudda or tivar. However, once selected, Sa and Pa are immovable, forming a just perfect fifth. While Sa is often linked to the Western C, the tone Sa is not associated with any particular pitch as it can be interchangeable. As in Western moveable-Do solfege, Sa refers to the tonic of a piece or scale rather than to any particular pitch.

WesternWesternPitch(Western)Pitch (Indian)Indian
Cb    FlatKomal 
CDoNaturalShuddhaSa
C#    SharpTivra 
Db    FlatKomalre
DReNaturalShuddhaRe
D#    SharpTivra 
Eb    FlatKomalga
EMeNaturalShuddhaGa
E#   SharpTivra 
Fb    FlatKomal 
FFaNaturalShuddhaMa
F#    SharpTivraMa^
Gb   FlatKomal 
GSoNaturalShuddhaPa
G#   SharpTivra 
Ab    FlatKomaldha
ALaNaturalShuddhaDha
A#   SharpTivra 
Bb    FlatKomalni
B  TiNaturalShuddhaNi
B# SharpTivra 

Meanings behind the Swara

Each shuddha swara (i.e., Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, and Ni) is believed to have originated as the sound of different animals. Also, each swara is associated with one of the seven chakras of the body. With Sa starting at the bottom and the notes moving up through the successive chakras. Komal notes are associated with the left side of each chakra; the side of emotion and intuition. Shuddha and tivra notes are associated with the right side; the side of logic. Therefore, Ragas effect a given chakra depending on the notes they contain. As with all culture’s, music affects and shapes your mood.

SwaraAnimaChakra
Sa peacock Root
Ri bull/skylark Sacra
Ga goat Solar Plexus
Ma dove/heron Heart, lungs
Pa cuckoo/nightingale Throat
Da horse Thrid Eye
Ni elephant Crown
What are the two styles of Sitar?

When selecting a sitar, you should consider what style you want - or need. If you already found a teacher, ask your guru which style they are comfortable teaching. Style does not refer to the amount of decorations, or the color or the size. It refers to the set-up of the instrument.

Sitars come in two styles, or gharanas. Ghar means house and gharana means originating from that house. The gharanas are named after the sitar player that made them famous. The two styles are commonly known as Ravi Shankar (RS) style (also called Kharaj Pancham) and Vilayat Khan (VK) style (also called Gandhar Pancham).

The defining difference between the two gharanas is the set-up for the strings. The RS stylists use the string set-up for the traditional 7 main-strings (3 drone strings and 4 melody strings). Whereas the VK stylists use 6 main-strings (4 drone and 2 melody). This affects the tuning, and even the spacing of the strings across the neck of the sitar. Because the spacing is different, you cannot simply remove one of the 7 main string from a RS style and make it a VK style. It can be done, but it’s not as simple as removing a string.

Other differences in style include:

The most visual difference is that the RS style normally has the main toomba and a smaller secondary toomba mounted on the neck. While the VK style normally has only the main toomba. However, that is not the distinguishing difference, and you can find RS style sitars with only one toomba or the VK style with the secondary smaller toomba.

The RS style sitar uses thicker strings to obtain more, lower, bass notes. Whereas VK use thinner strings and do not use lower bass notes.

The RS style has a more open jawari, or more curved face on the Bridge. While the VK style has a flatter bridge with the more closed jawari.

Usually the RS style are offered with a greater degree decoration from plain, to fancy, to the Professional ultra fancy models. While the carvings and inlay on the VK style tend to be simple and less ornate.

The RS style normally has 13 sympatetic strings. While the VK has 11 sympathetic strings.

Regardless of the style, both will have 7 main pegs, to follow the traditional look of the sitar. However, in the case of VK style sitars, makers from Calcutta keep the 2nd main peg blank whereas the makers from Miraj makers keep the 3rd peg blank.

There are undoutablely other differences. However, for the purposes of making your selection remember to ask your guru which style they are most comfortable teaching. Then it is all up to you, to practice practice practice.

Origins of the Sitar - a Quick read

Origins of the Sitar

There are a number of theories regarding the origin and history of the Sitar. Most disregard the historical record. Some suggest the Sitar evolved from the ancient veenas such as the rudra vina. However, there are fundamental differences in the way these two instruments are played. The sitar is in the lute family and the veena is a stick zither. There are also differences in the basic construction and materials used. All these things suggest these two instruments developed independently.

The Sitar is often attributed to Amir Khusru. The difficulty arises when you realize there were two famous individuals with the name Amir Khusru. One Amir Khusru that lived in the 1300’s and one that lived in the 1700’s. This alone can confuse the development of the Sitar by over half a century. Since the Persian- Islamic influence in Hindu music began with the Moghul Empire during the 1300’s some believe this earlier Amir Khusru was influential in both the development of the Hindustani Sangeet and the Sitar. (Hindustani Sangeet is the style of music that blends the traditional Hindu musical concepts and Persian performance practice.) During the time of Moghul rule Persian lutes were played at court and may provide the basis of the Indo-Pakistan Sitar. However, there is no physical evidence for the sitar until the time of the collapse of the Moghul Empire. So, it can be assumed that this first Amir Khusru had no involvement in the invention of the sitar.

The Sangeet Sudarshana attributes the sitar to the second Amir Khusru during the 18th century. Those that attribute the sitar to this Khusru, believe he developed the sitar from the Persian Sehtar. This Amir’s grandson, Masit Khan, was one of the most influential musicians in the development of this instrument. The Masitkhani Gat style of music with numerous slow gats in the dhrupad derives its name from Masit Khan.

From these theories and the historic record, we can conclude that the sitar developed in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent not at the beginning, but at the end of the Mogul era. It was likely influenced by or evolved from the Persian lutes played in the Mogul courts

Wind Instruments - Flutes, Bagpipes, Bansuri, Bulb Horns, Ocarina and more
Bagpipes and Practice Chanters
The Practice Chanter for bagpipes; what is their purpose?

The Practice Chanter (PC) is a practice tool, and not intended to be a musical instrument. PC's have a synthetic reed which is much quieter than the cane pipe reed of Bagpipe's Chanter and easier to sound. Making it more accommodating for the novice and for practice.

There are two main reasons to get a PC.

First, a beginner learns basic fingering and rudimentary embellishments on the PC for several arrangements before attempting the bagpipes. A studious beginner might stay with the PC for 6-months before ever attempting to the Bagpipes.

Second, the PC is used throughout a piper's career to learn and to practice new arrangements. It is usually played more than the actual pipes.

There are two sizes of PC: Standard and Long.

The Standard PC are somewhat shorter than the chanter on a full-size set of bagpipes. The hole-spacing on a standard PC is slightly less than the hole-spacing on a bagpipe chanter. Standard sized chanters are usually recommended for people with small hands, or children. Their advantage is that they are smaller and are more easily packed or carried. Usually 18-19 inches long.

The Long PC is the same size as the chanter on a full-size set of bagpipes, and the hole-spacing is the same. Most modern bagpipe instructors recommend the long chanters for adult students because the hole-spacing makes the transition to the pipes more natural. Usually 21-23 inches long.

A PC is not a precise-pitch instrument. The Chanter’s Pitch depends on the

  • Reed: brand, hardness, depth seated in the bore
  • Chanter length (standard or long)
  • Brand of the Chanter
  • Amount of air pressure
  • Ambient Temperature

The PC in ready to play when you can finger the High-A and the Low-A, and they sound in tune with each other.

In what Key do Roosebeck Bagpipes play?

The Western concept of Key does not apply to the Bagpipe. This is a very confusing point for many people. It's sad to say that most pipers do not know the difference between the Tuning, Pitch and the Key.

Bagpipes were created long before modern western musical instruments. The Scale of the Great Highland Bagpipe is based on an ancient Medieval Scale. Therefore, scales for bagpipes don't match, or equate, to the modern Western Scale. In general, the Natural Scale of the Bagpipe is A which is Bb in the Western Scale.

The Pitch of a bagpipe’s chanter, can be raised or lowered by manipulation of the reed, by the player’s force of breath, and the ambient environment. It is not uncommon for a chanter’s A to be much higher in frequency on a hot day than a cold one.

In a band setting, typically all chanters are by the same maker and will play in the same pitch. On the other hand, most chanters by different makers should be able to be tuned together. When chanters are played in a group, is not a requirement that the chanters are tuned to the exact frequencies. It is only important that they play in tune with themselves and each other.

So how to pipers communicate in which Key their music will be played? The Natural Scale of an arrangement is defined by the note at, or near, the bottom of the range with simple fingering. For example, when playing Amazing Grace, a piper ends by fingering D, which will come out as the Western Concert Eb. In communicating with other musicians, they should be told that Amazing Grace will be played in Eb, not D.

Bagpipes: The Great Highland, the Mediterranean, Medieval, Uilleann! A little history.

Bagpipes: The Great Highland, the Mediterranean, Medieval, Uilleann! A little history.

Bagpipes have been around for over a thousand years. Various shapes and sizes exist from Indian to Ireland. Some have enormous bags, some have excessively long drones, some are quite small. Regardless of size or shape all bagpipes are members of the woodwind family, they all have enclosed reeds which are ‘blown’ from air pressurized in a reservoir chamber, they all have one of more chanters, and usually at least one drone.

The Great Highland bagpipe (GHB) is the best known, and most recognizable, in the English-speaking world. These have three large drones that rest on the shoulder of the piper. The other, smaller, styles we offer are: the Medieval pipes with only two drones, and the Mediterranean bagpipe with a twin chanter that provides the drone and melody, and the Uilleann bagpipes.

Bellows were introduced in the 16th or 17th century. Some Pipers believe that the Penal Law classifying the traditional Bagpipes as an instrument of war, meant the traditional pipes were no longer available to be played at non-military gatherings. The Uilleann pipes, with its arm-pumped bellows, is quieter than the GHB and lends itself to inside events, such as dances, weddings, and wakes. Pipe sets that use a bellows to fill the bag are sometimes called “cauld wind pipes” (cold wind pipes), because the player’s, warm moist, breath is not used to blow the reeds. In these pipes the air is pressurized by a bellows and remains “cauld.” Another benefit of the Uilleann pipes, to secular events, is that by removing the moisture from a reed the playing to go on much longer and, happily for the piper, from a seated position.

If you plan to learn the bagpipes, regardless of the style, don’t just jump to the full set of pipes. Learning to play the bagpipe is a step-by-step process. That starts with a Practice Chanter. Once you have mastered a few songs on the Practice Chanter you can then try playing your set without the drones. Drones are added only after you master playing the chanter with the bag (or bellows). One other note, if you play with other pipers you will all need to have the identical chanter. The reason for that is too long to explain here. Just take your time learning and have fun. When played correctly the bagpipes create inspirational and moving music. When played poorly, you can understand how they became an instrument of war!

How to Assemble the Uilleann Bagpipe

How to Assemble the Uilleann Bagpipe
For an illustration on the assembly and a finger-chart of notes: see the Uilleann Starter Set Owner Guide.

Learning to play the Uilleann Bagpipes

If you have never played the pipes before, you should begin with the Practice Chanter (UILP) alone. Learn your scales and a song or two before attempting to play the Chanter with the Bag and Bellows. It is not practical, to start playing with a complete set. Even after you are accomplished as playing the full pipe set, you will rely on the Practice Chanter to learn new songs, or practice embellished arrangements

PREPARE THE STARTER SET

Before you assemble the Starter Set (UILS) examine the parts.

  • The Bellows has two straps attached, one for your waist and one for your elbow.
  • The Connector Tube is wrapped in synthetic leather and has a suede flap valve on one of the open ends.
  • The Bag has three fittings. The Valve Stock is a large brass cup-like fitting is for the drones and regulators. If you are not ready for drones and regulators, keep this fitting plugged. The second, smaller brass fitting is for the Connector Tube that will attach to the Bellows. The third fitting, in the neck of the bag, is made of wood and has an opening for the brass tube of the Chanter Stock.
  • The Chanter Stock has a curved brass tube and a blackwood body.
  • The Chanter Reed is pre-hemped to the copper staple.
  • The Chanter has a brass fitting on the bottom and a hemped top.
  • (The Chanter is sold separately)

To assemble the Starter Set, insert the hemped end of the Reed into the top of the Chanter. Then connect the Chanter, with its reed in place, to the Blackwood Chanter Stock. Slide the curved brass tube of the Blackwood Chanter Stock into the small hole in the wooden stock in the bag’s neck. The suede-valve end of the Connector Tube slides into the appropriate sized brass fitting on the Bag.

Now buckle the bellows around your waist with the longer strap and around your right arm with the shorter strap. Place the Bag under your left arm. Slide the open end of the Connector Tube into the brass fitting on the Bellows, located near the longer strap. If any of the connections seem loose, simply wrap the ends with more hemp. Wrap evenly and wrap only enough to make a snug fit.

When assembling or disassembling your pipes be especially careful to hold the parts near the joints. Never twist from the mid-shaft of the Chanters, Connectors, or Drones as they may crack.

ADD THE DRONES

Only after you feel accomplished at playing the Starter Set with a Chanter should you ever consider adding the Drones (UILN). It takes four times as much air to play the Pipes with Drones as without the drones. The large brass fitting on the Bag is called a Cup, or Valve Stock. To add Drones, you must remove the plug from the Valve Stock. The Drone set comes with a Valve, and it slides into the Valve Stock fitting on the Bag. Then the Drones slide into the Valve.

When you are ready to try the Drones, add only one at a time. Each time you add a Drone or Regulator you will find that you will need more air, and more pumping. Each time you add a Drone you will need to tune the Drone. Pump up your pipes and sound an A above Middle C on your chanter. While playing the A, adjust the Tenor Drone slide until you obtain the fifth of A (D above Middle C). Each time you add a drone you must repeat this process. You should not try to tune the Drones without playing the Chanter. The Tenor Drone is D above Middle C, the Baritone Drone is D below Middle C, and the Bass Drone is second D below Middle C

ADD THE REGULATORS

Again, when ready, add the Regulators (UILR). The Tenor and Baritone Regulators slide into the Valve face, just like the Drones. The Bass Regulator slides into the fitting on the side of the Valve.

  • The notes of the Tenor Regulator are from C above Middle C down to F# above Middle C.
  • The notes of the Baritone Regulator are from A above Middle C down to D above Middle C.
  • The notes of the Bass Regulator are from Middle C down to G below Middle C.

HOW TO PLAY

Once you have mastered the scales and a song or two, you can advance to the Starter Set with Chanter. Now you will learn to play the same scales and songs by pumping the Bellows with your elbow.

Uilleann Pipes are played while seated. When playing with the Starter Set, the large strap buckles around your waist. The smaller strap buckles around the right arm. Place the Bellows between the right elbow and your waist so you can pump it easily. The Connector Tube runs across the front of your chest and the reservoir Bag rests under the left arm. Hold the chanter with both hands. Your left hand plays the top three holes and the back thumb hole. Your right hand plays the bottom four holes. When not playing, rest the end of the Chanter on your right thigh. You can tie a leather Popping Strap around your leg if you wish. You can conserve air in the reservoir and illuminate the sound of the Pipes while resting. To do this, hold the Chanter opening down against the Popping Strap, engage the Stop Key on the Drone Valve, and place your fingers over the Chanter holes. In this way you can rest between songs without losing air and without the pipes droning.

Harmouniums & Shruti Boxes
Are the Harmoiums Tuned?

The Harmonium was introduced to India by the British. It has been embraced and is now a truly Indian instrument used as accompaniment in devotional songs.

EnSoul Music inspects each harmonium before it ships. We do our best to tune the harmonium to A= 440 Hz (+/- a few cents). [We occasionally offer models pre-tuned to A=432 Hz].

Harmonium reeds are made of brass. Metal changes with temperature. Therefore, you may notice small changes in the pitch of the reeds as temperatures rise or fall. The wooden parts of the harmonium can react to changes in moisture and temperature as well. Since the reeds are mounted on the wooden frame of the instrument extreme changes in temperatures or moisture may cause the reeds to buzz, or parts to stick, jam, or worse. Harmoniums like stability.

Over a number of years, your harmonium may need to be re-tuned. This is a task for an experienced harmonium repair person. Do not attempt it casually.

Shruti Boxes: Male vs Female

A shruti box (also called surpeti), can be male or a female; which refers to the range of the instrument. The male shruti box is usually tuned an octave lower than the female shruti.

The shruti is often played to accompany a vocalist. Therefore, it is important that the range of the shruti compliments the singer's vocal range.

If you have a deeper voice, get the male shruti. If you have a deep voice and want a higher counter-part when you sing, get he female shruti. It's all up to your personal preference.

Flutes & Whistles
Irish Flutes, Traditional vs Standard tuning

Standard Tuning uses A=-440Hz., and is used by most concert flautists.

If you play a Standard tuned silver flute, a Traditional Irish tuned flute, can be an extremely frustrating. Musicians that have primarily played in "concert" settings, and players with a very good ear can have a difficult time with an Irish flute that has traditional tuning.

If you use the traditional Irish flute fingering, like that of a whistle, you'll find that the F# is flat, the A is sharp, the C# is flat, and the bottom D is also quite flat. The D on the traditional Irish flute is purposely tuned a bit flat. This is done to improve the sound in the lower register. On any flute, a strong, loud, low D can be difficult to achieve. Tuning the D a bit flat helps this out (blowing hard on the low D brings it into tune).

Regardless of the tuning style, Irish Flutes can be tuned in many ways. Adjusting the Head-End Tuning Cork allows you to tune the flute with itself (i.e., low notes not in tune with high notes). You can adjust the Tuning Slide. Rolling your fingers on and off the finger holes and even breath control will affect the pitch. adjust your blowing angle across the embouchure hole, or use the metal keys in the original simple-system fingering, to make these notes play in tune. You can blow downward into the hole to make a note flatter, and blow across the hole to make it sharper; this can be done by tipping your head up or down slightly, by rolling the flute toward or away from you, or a bit of both.

If you are a beginner on the flute, don't bother with this tuning stuff until you can get good strong notes over lower and upper octaves. As your skill and ear improve, you may want to make further slight corrections in the cork to further improve tuning of your flute over its entire range of playing.

Bansuri Flutes, why are they special?

The bansuri is the most common Indian flute and is one of the oldest musical instruments. They have a special significance in India because of their association with Lord Krishna. Although they are a simple piece of bamboo, they produce quite a beautiful sound.

The professional bansuri flutes are made from one type of bamboo, called cinchor. The cut bamboo is then treated, dried and seasoned for years. The correct notes are achieved by piercing the seasoned bamboo with hot iron rods in precise positions along the length of the flute. After testing each note, the flute is polished for up to eight hours.

The transverse blown embouchure, gives the flexibility and control necessary for classical music. The traditional North Indian bansuri, associated with Hindustani music, had six holes. The pitch indicated for the bansuri means the flute will play that pitch with the first 3 holes covered. The seventh hole is optional and rarely played..

When playing the bansuri, the embouchure is held to the lips, while the body of the flute drops down and across the chest of the player. If you are holding the flute body to the left, then the left hand plays the lower holes. If you hold the body of the flute to the right, the right hand plays the lower holes. When fingering the notes, use the flat middle pad of the finger, about one inch from the tip, to fully or half cover the hole. This provides more control to play half-notes and to bend notes. Be aware that the bansuri tuning is often not exactly to the western standard notes. It can happen that they sometimes sound slightly out of tune to the western ear.

How to play the Shehnai & Mizmar

How to play the Shehnai & Mizmar

THE REED

The reed mounts into the bore of the flute at the upper end, on the outside. This instrument has a sealed air chamber; so, do not try to remove the bell from the shaft. Prior to playing the reed may be soaked to soften it. Test the reed every 15-30 seconds to see if it has the sound you like, do not over soak it. As you play the reed will be kept damp by your breath.

If you play for a long time, the reed may become too damp (soft) and you will need to dry it out. They can be left to dry naturally, never put them in sunlight or near heat. You can adjust the opening of the reed by placing a clip on the reed when it dries- to minimize the opening. Or dry it with a toothpick between the reeds to increase the opening. As you play you will be come failure with the style of reed that works best for you.

HOW TO PLAY

When playing, your lips are placed on the reed/staple. Your mouth is now part of the instrument and acts as an air chamber. Don’t bite down on the reed, it still needs to vibrate to create the sound.

The fingers of the right hand cover the four bottom holes. The fingers of the left hand play the upper four holes. Blow steady but do not blast the air through the instrument.

Some players adjust the instrument’s sound by partially or completely filling some holes with wax.

SHEHNAI TRIVIA

The Shehnai is also called the oboe of North Indian. It may have evolved from the Persian Nai. There are depictions of the Nai on Egyptian tombs dating to 3000 B.C. Historically, in India the Shehnai was one of the nine instruments associated with the ensembles of royal courts. It is one of the Mangal Vadya, which translates to “auspicious instrument.” The auspicious sound of the Shehnai is the reason it is associated with the religious ceremonies. Today the Shehnai is still played in temples. This status has made it a necessary instrument in North Indian weddings and festivals.

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